Heathrow launches plans to make airport a centre of excellence in sustainability

Heathrow launches plans to make airport a centre of excellence in sustainability

  • Heathrow 2.0, the airport’s new sustainability strategy, launches new initiatives to make Heathrow into a centre of excellence for aviation
  • Plans include a new R&D incubator, an ambition for growth from a new runway to be carbon neutral and at least halving the number of late-running departures to reduce noise for local communities

Speaking at the BCC’s Annual Conference, Heathrow Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye unveiled Heathrow 2.0, the airport’s new sustainability leadership strategy which aspires to make the airport a centre of excellence for the aviation industry. The strategy announces ambitious goals to reduce the airport’s and the industry’s environmental impacts while maximising economic opportunities throughout the UK.

Heathrow 2.0 was drafted with input from environmental groups, academics, community leaders, as well as Heathrow colleagues, passengers, commercial partners and suppliers.

As part of Heathrow 2.0, the airport has invested an initial £500,000 in its first R&D incubator to minimise aviation’s impacts like noise and carbon emissions. Heathrow will consult leading experts to identify participants from the aviation industry, academia and business. By the end of the year, more funding sources will also be identified so that the incubator opens its doors in 2019.

Heathrow 2.0  puts forward targets to deliver a sustainable future for aviation. It includes an aspiration to make growth from a new runway at Heathrow carbon neutral, and the use of 100% renewable electricity at the airport from 2017 in a major step toward creating a zero-carbon airport. It also proposes establishing an airside ultra-low emission zone by 2025, to improve quality of life through cleaner air.

Heathrow 2.0 also outlines new initiatives for the benefit of local communities – including a voluntary Quiet Night Charter seeking to at least halve by 2022 the number of flights on non-disrupted days leaving late after 1130pm. Heathrow 2.0 launches a “Fly Quiet and Clean” league table, which will publicly rank airlines according to their noise and emissions.

Finally, Heathrow 2.0 aims to deliver a better working place for colleagues by creating 10,000 apprenticeships by 2030 with a third runway, and publishing a roadmap in 2017 setting out how to transition Heathrow’s supply chain employees working at the airport to be paid the London Living Wage.

Speaking to participants at the BCC conference, Heathrow Chief Executive  John Holland-Kaye said:

“Heathrow 2.0. is a step-change for our business, and accelerates the shift in our industry towards a sustainable future for aviation. By focusing on the long-term, and through working together, we can deliver a world-leading economy – innovative, competitive, successful and sustainable.  And we can create a future where our business, our people, our communities, our country and our world, can all thrive.”

Prof Richard Templer, Director of Innovation at Imperial College London’s Grantham Research Institute, said:

“I am excited by Heathrow’s plans to bring a ‘Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Airports’ to West London. Airports are mini-cities and this makes them perfect places to pioneer and demonstrate innovations that improve sustainability of the complex systems that keep an airport or a city running. Heathrow will partner with leading experts and institutions to facilitate new research & development in low-carbon technologies and I am keen to explore how Imperial College low-carbon innovation strengths can be a part of this exciting story.”

Chief Executive of West London Business, Andrew Dakers, said:

“With Heathrow 2.0 the airport has set out a comprehensive and stretching framework for a sustainable future for the airport, its connections with local communities and the economy, as well as the wider aviation industry.   Heathrow 2.0 builds on an impressive track record  Just one example of the airport’s accelerating shift to more environmentally sustainable operations is the biomass powered Heathrow Energy Centre.  The new strategy has all the right ingredients to establish the airport as a global centre of excellence in sustainability.  As well as the strategy’s zero carbon ambitions, we particularly welcome the integration of circular economy thinking into the detailed plan.  A circular economy approach can further deepen the airport’s links with the West London economy, and ensure that as one community we make vastly more efficient use of our resources, substantially reduce waste and develop the sharing economy.”

Read more…

Heathrow 2.0 website: http://your.heathrow.com/sustainability/

Download Heathrow’s full strategy for sustainable growth https://your.heathrow.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Heathrow2.0.pdf

Case study: Heathrow Energy Centre

Opened in June 2014, T2 welcomes 20 million passengers per year. The new Heathrow Energy Centre provides 20% renewable energy to T2, helping the airport meet its energy needs cost efficiently while improving its energy efficiency by 40% more than required through building regulations (Part L 2006).  Heathrow’s Energy Centre delivers heat and cooling to T2 through a 10MW biomass Combined Heat and Power Plant. It is one of the largest biomass initiatives of its kind in the UK.


The Energy Centre is helping Heathrow work towards the airport’s target to achieve a 34% reduction in CO2emissions from energy used in their buildings by 2020 (from a 1990 baseline in line with Government CO2 targets). When operating at its full potential, it can offset around 40,000MWh/year of gas and 12,000MWh/year of electricity, saving around 13,000 tonnes of CO2 each year compared to the use of gas and grid electricity. That’s equivalent to the annual emissions of 6,500 passenger cars.


The biomass boiler needs around 25,000 tonnes of woodchip per year. Heathrow source the timber locally (75% from within 50 miles) which helps support local communities through providing jobs and further reducing CO2 emissions from transport. Other benefits include:

  • Tightly controlled air quality emissions;
  • 100% of the bottom ash is collected and reused as a soil conditioner in agriculture or forestry;
  • Promoting local woodland management;
  • Promoting local economic investment and employment opportunities.


Circular economy

More background on the Circular economy can be found here: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/overview/concept